Triple J sues PSS to annul contract for 5 buses

Triple J Saipan Inc. is suing the Public School System and Education Commissioner Cynthia I. Deleon Guerrero to invalidate a contract that PSS awarded to a company for five buses.
Triple J, through lawyer James R. Stump, wants the Superior Court to stop PSS and Deleon Guerrero from implementing and paying a PSS contract that had been awarded to Morrico Equipment.

After a hearing last Thursday, Associate Judge Kenneth L. Govendo will resume the hearing on Thursday to allow PSS and Deleon Guerrero to respond to the lawsuit.

Tiberius Mocanu appeared as counsel for PSS and Deleon Guerrero.

As of press time Thursday, Saipan Tribune was still waiting for comments from PSS.

PSS, which was seeking to buy five school buses, issued a competitive sealed bid process on March 10, 2017, requiring bidders to provide warranty coverage for “one year/12,000 mile miles bumper to bumper and five years/60,000 miles power train.”

According to Stump in Triple J’s complaint, Morrico Equipment submitted its bid on April 13, 2017.

Stump said that Morrico’s bid only identified the total bid price of $709,995 and individual bus bid price of $141,999 for each of the five buses.

Stump said the Morrico bid did not identify or discuss the required maintenance and warranty requirements.

He said the bid submitted by Triple J was $799,375 or $159,875 for each of the five buses and provided a detailed description of the proposed maintenance and warranty requirements.

When asked if the Morrico bid addresses the maintenance and warranty requirements, a Morrico representative finally responded on April 20, 2017, Stump said, a week after the invitation for bidding was due. It said the Morrico bid included warranty requirements but not the maintenance requirements.

On May 26, Triple J Motors representative Randy Steele asked about the results of the bidding and was told that the bid had been awarded to Morrico, Stump said.

That same day, Triple J submitted a bid protest, saying the contract with Morrico failed to comply with requirements for a competitive bid—that Morrico was not a responsible bidder, the bid submitted was not responsive, and that PSS failed to tell Triple J of the award of the bid.

According to Stump, Deleon Guerrero responded to Triple J’s protest last May 30, saying that Triple J failed to file a bid protest within 10 days and failure to notify the other bidders of its protest within three days.

Triple J then appealed Deleon Guerrero’s decision to the Board of Education.

Stump said that Triple J’s challenge rests on four issues: violation of requirements for competitive bidding, Morrico was a non-responsive bidder, claims of untimeliness are inappropriate, and PSS violated the requirements of good faith.

The BOE appeal committee issued a decision last Sept. 5, saying it lacked jurisdiction to consider the appeal.

The committee also determined that Triple J was not prejudiced by the award to Morrico and that Triple J did not provide adequate notice to Morrico.

Stump said the Triple J’s protest is not against the bid by Morrico but against the failure of PSS personnel to comply with the requirements of bid and bidder evaluation.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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